"Fuzzy-Wuzzy"

(Soudan Expeditionary Force. Early Campaigns)

Original Text: 
Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1940): 400-01.
1We've fought with many men acrost the seas,
2      An' some of 'em was brave an' some was not:
6      'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
8      An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.
9         So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
10         You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
11         We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
12         We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.
17But all we ever got from such as they
19We 'eld our bloomin' own, the papers say,
21         Then 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' the missis and the kid;
22         Our orders was to break you, an' of course we went an' did.
25'E 'asn't got no papers of 'is own.
26      'E 'asn't got no medals nor rewards,
27So we must certify the skill 'e's shown
28      In usin' of 'is long two-'anded swords:
29When 'e's 'oppin' in an' out among the bush
30      With 'is coffin-'eaded shield an' shovel-spear,
31An 'appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
33         So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' your friends which are no more,
34         If we 'adn't lost some messmates we would 'elp you to deplore.
35         But give an' take's the gospel, an' we'll call the bargain fair,
36         For if you 'ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!
37'E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
38      An', before we know, 'e's 'ackin' at our 'ead;
39'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive,
40      An' 'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead.
43'E's the on'y thing that doesn't give a damn
44      For a Regiment o' British Infantree!
45         So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
46         You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
47         An' 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your 'ayrick 'ead of 'air---
48         You big black boundin' beggar---for you broke a British square!

Notes

3] Paythan: Pathans, a people on the northwest frontier of India. Back to Line
4] Fuzzy: "Sudanese followers of the Mahdi," so-called because of their frizzled hair (Durand 22). Back to Line
5] ha'porth's: halfpennyworth's. Back to Line
7] Suakim: "A seaport of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan on the Red Sea. It was the headquarters of the British and Egyptian troops operating in the eastern Sudan against the dervishes under Osman Digna in 1884" (Ralph Durand, A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling [London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914]: 22). Back to Line
13] Kyber 'ills: Khyber mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Back to Line
14] "At the battle of Majuba (1881) the excellence of the Boer marksmanship resulted in a severe defeat for the British forces" (Durand 23). Back to Line
15] In the Burmese campaign British forces came down with malaria near the Irrawaddy River (Durand 23). Back to Line
16] impi: regiment. "In 1879 a Zulu force practically annihilated the greater part of a British column at Isandhlwana" (Durand 23). Back to Line
18] pop: ginger-beer. swaller: swallow. Back to Line
20] 'oller: hollow. Back to Line
23] Martinis: "The Martini-Henry rifle was in general use in the British army from 1871 till 1888" (Durand 23). Back to Line
24] you broke the square: in 1884 near Tamai the Sudanese army broke into the first British brigade square (a formation of soldiers) and "temporarily captured the naval guns" (Durand 23). Back to Line
32] Tommy: British soldier. Back to Line
41] daisy: prince of a fellow.ducky: one sweet guy (term of endearment).lamb: darling. Back to Line
42] injia-rubber: India-rubber. on the spree: a drunken binge or bout. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1892
Publication Notes: 
Barrack-Room Ballads
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2007
Rhyme: